Teuvo Teravainen was living in a 48th-floor apartment a year ago in downtown Chicago, playing for the Blackhawks.
He has now moved into a fifth-floor apartment near North Hills in Raleigh, a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Some might say that’s a step down in status, but the Finnish forward doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I get to show myself again. It’s a chance to step up.”
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Teravainen’s trade to the Canes in June created a lot of NHL chatter. Add in another young Finnish forward, Sebastian Aho, and the buzz about the Canes has become even greater.
Their youth – Teravainen turned 22 in September, Aho is 19 – is appealing. Their upside is intriguing. Both played for Finland in the World Cup, although not on the same line. But they may be together on a line with the Canes.
Teravainen was a first-round draft pick by Chicago in 2012 and won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks three years later. Aho has not played in an NHL game. But the two are expected to give the Canes an injection of speed and skill, bringing more scoring to a team that badly needs it if it’s to be in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“They have a high skill level, high hockey sense,” Canes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “They should be exciting to watch.”
Aho, taken by Carolina in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, opened some eyes at the Canes’ 2015 prospects development camp in Raleigh. One of the smaller players in camp at 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds, he showed impressive quickness and on-ice savvy, enough for some to question if he might be invited back to the Canes’ preseason training camp.
Playing in the NHL is my goal. I will try to play my best and show I’m a good player.
Canes prospect Sebastian Aho
That was not to be. Aho’s father, Harri, is the general manager of Karpat Oulu in the Finnish Elite League, and Sebastian returned to Finland for another season with his father’s team.
Aho, at 17, scored an overtime goal that won the league championship – one of his top thrills in hockey. Last season, he led Karpat in scoring, helped Finland win the 2016 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, then joined Team Finland after the season for the IIHF World Championship in Russia.
“It was an unbelievable season for Sebastian,” Harri Aho said. “I think he is ready to take next step to NHL and can play for the Canes. He is mentally prepared to be a good player in NHL.”
Teravainen and Aho got meaningful playing time for Finland in the World Cup. Finland’s offensive woes led to a disappointing finish in Toronto, but Aho called it a “great experience.”
“There were the world’s best players and tough competition,” he said.
One plus for Carolina was that the early World Cup exit by Finland allowed the two forwards to join the Canes’ training camp a few days early.
“Playing in the NHL is my goal,” Aho said. “I will try to play my best and show I’m a good player.”
At a player autograph session at PNC Arena during the annual Caniac Carnival, Teravainen and Aho were warmly greeted by Canes fans. “The fans, they were very nice to me,” Aho said.
The next day, Teravainen and Aho were on the ice at PNC Arena, at their first practice. The next step was a first preseason game, at home Sept. 30 against the Lightning.
Teravainen, a Helsinki native, is similar to Aho in that he’s not a big guy at 5-11 and 178 pounds. But he was a nice fit for the Blackhawks, able to play center or the wing, capable of moving up and down lines.
Teravainen’s numbers last season were modest: 13 goals, 22 assists in 78 games, then just one assist in seven playoff games. In 2015, he had four goals and six assists in 18 games in the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run after playing in 34 regular-season games.
Teravainen no longer is on a team with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. It’s a different hockey team, a different hockey market. But also a new and different opportunity.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I get to show, again, myself and a chance to step up.”